COVID: Cases keep hitting new highs, county sees another fatality

Published 4:56 pm Friday, August 20, 2021

Walmart has closed for COVID cleaning. Mississippi’s U.S. Senator Roger Whitaker tested positive for the coronavirus. Two emergency medical field hospitals have been set up at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Hospitalizations in Mississippi are at their peak and so is the most recent one-day total of new cases, a number that has climbed steadily in recent days.

The state health department has reported 5,048 new positive coronavirus cases, making Friday’s number the highest one-day total since the pandemic’s beginning.

It is the latest punch in a month that has seen eight of the highest one-day COVID-19 case totals for Mississippi — the eighth and ninth-highest days were in January.

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Lincoln County has reported one additional death — one of 54 reported statewide Friday — and 44 more positive test results, elevating county totals to 4,571 cases and 121 COVID-19 related fatalities.

Brookhaven schools will begin a hybrid schedule Monday through Sept. 3 and masks continue to be required on campuses. The district has had a total of 210 quarantined students and 34 who tested positive. Nine employees tested positive and an additional three have been quarantined.

Lincoln County  schools reported 20 students under quarantine and 66 being tested every other day by campus nurses.

Earlier this week, UMMC head LouAnn Woodward called the rising numbers a “disaster of our own making.” The state has recorded 406,249 positive cases of the virus and nearly 8,000 deaths at 7,991.

In Brookhaven, King’s Daughters Medical Center had 17 COVID-positive patients hospitalized as of 10:30 a.m. Friday, 15 unvaccinated. Nine were in the intensive care unit and all were on ventilators.

The hospital is seeing a 190% increase in patients admitted than before the pandemic began.

KDMC Respiratory Manager Honor Wallace pleaded with the public to do their part in a Facebook post made by the hospital.

“If everyone would just do your part to get vaccinated, wear your mask, wash your hands. If you’re sick don’t go around other people, stay home. Do your part,” Wallace said.

KDMC’s intensive care unit has eight beds. The highest number of ventilated patients at one time the hospital has treated has been 15, nearly twice normal capacity.

“We have had multiple patients in one room, and that’s also with three out of our four trauma rooms in the ER having two ventilated patients in there together,” Wallace said.

COVID hospitalizations in Mississippi have reached yet another new peak, with 1,660 in-patients with confirmed infections and 77 additional patients with suspected infections as of Wednesday, the most recent MSDH data. The previous high was just 24 hours earlier with 1,633 confirmed infections.

The number of patients in ICUs statewide has dropped from Tuesday’s peak of 486 to 457, with two-thirds of these on ventilators — 324 people.

Wallace said the hospital was overwhelmed at the beginning of August, but was able to get extra vents from a rental company and the state.

“I’ve been here 21 years. I’ve never, ever seen this before,” Wallace said, her voice breaking with emotion. “When it comes time to have to tell a patient that their only chance of survival is to place a tube down their throats, the fear and anxiety is just overwhelming. And it’s not just the patients — it’s also us, because when we bring our patients in her they become family.”

“We’re overwhelmed. We’re understaffed,” Wallace said. “The only way this is ever going to get better is to do your part, be respectful and do what is asked of you so we can get through this together.”